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A New York Architecture Duo Creates a Fresh and Functional Airstream Design for a Family of Six

Lauren Schlesinger and Adam Glickman, owners of Glickman Schlesinger Architects in New York City, recently took on their first-ever mobile interior project for a Manhattan couple in their family of six: a 1989 370LE Airstream. “The owner purchased her in Cleveland, Ohio on the spot,” says Glickman, of the Airstream the owner later named Loretta. “He drove her home that night to New York City having never driven an RV previously. Shortly thereafter, Loretta was trucked to Colorado where the work was completed.”

A 1989 370LE Airstream with sparkling new interior by Glickman Schlesinger Architects

But, first, they had to see the trailer, conceptualize the design, and get the Airstream off the busy streets of Manhattan. “The process was refreshingly fast,” adds Glickman. “It took six months to design and build it. It started with a phone call from the owners asking us to please come immediately to Lexington Avenue in Manhattan to see what they had just purchased [and needed to get out of New York City right away.] Lauren quickly headed over and saw a massive old trailer taking up several parking spots. The outside and inside looked completely different than what you see now.”

Left: The finished design with brand new interiors and plenty of sleeping space and a retractable screen for movie nights. Right: A Cararra-wrapped banquette topped with “Kibira” fabric in Grouse by Scalamandre.

After analyzing the interior and coming up with a design plan, they knew they’d have to start from scratch. “Nothing seemed worth keeping or desirable to live with,” adds Schlesinger. “From that point on, we quickly worked using renderings and consultations with the general contractor to design it. This was a different method than the typical extensive design drawing, bid, build process we are accustomed to as architects and interior designers, which made it an exciting project to be a part of.”

The Airstream lined with Carrara stone and Scalamandre’s “Kibira” in Grouse fabric.

A big design challenge, however, was to create enough space for their large family. “The constraint was to sleep a family of six,” says Schlesinger. “Therefore, we needed beds, lots of beds, which led to the bunk bed decision.”

Bunk beds allow for ample sleeping spaces.

To help with “Loretta’s” rebuild and major overhaul, the duo tapped Timeless Travel Trailers in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. “Since we had never worked on a moving vehicle renovation it was helpful to have their guidance,” adds Glickman. “Our goal was to have a very minimal palette, similar to what we might use in a home renovation. We kept it simple.” Using materials such as White Oak wood floors; Carrara marble; white plastic laminate; aluminum; black fixtures by Delta in the bathroom; and a stainless steel kitchen faucet, they created a light and airy space with efficiency and durability. 

Left: The bathroom appointed with Carrara marble, teak floor, and a black “Trinsic” faucet by Delta. | Right: The shower lined with a teak floor and a black shower fixtures by Delta

“As with all of our work, we devote a lot of time to making sure we have what we consider the right mix and quantities of materials,” explains Schlesinger. “There were a lot of constraints due to this being a small space with many pieces that couldn’t move, but we like working with rules. The layout couldn’t change much and the forms of the furnishings were restricted by the many components underneath the vehicle [wheel wells, water heater and furnace, exterior storage compartment, water tanks and pump.] We wanted to use a decent amount of stone, but there are weight limits for vehicles. Nevertheless, we insisted and we think it was a great choice because the stone is extremely durable and ages beautifully.”

The revamped trailer feels like home with upholstery used in their own home.

Timeless Travel Trailers also helped with solutions for common issues like weight. “They found a stone product that was a thin veneer over a light honeycomb substrate, allowing the stone to weigh less,” says Glickman. “We couldn’t use pendant light fixtures because they would obviously sway in a car, so we had to find a short rigid light fixture for the dining area, and ended up with a favorite from Apparatus Studio. Because the ceiling is sloped, we added a wood sloped mounting plate to keep the bottom of the fixture parallel with the wood table top.” 

With Loretta now road trip-ready, the duo admits it’s the small touches and attention to details that makes it feel even more like a second home. “All the upholstery fabric “Kibria” from Scalamandre was from their full-time residence,” says Glickman. “And having this upholstery everywhere [including the driver’s and front seats] helps to make you feel like you’re at home, even when you’re on the road.”

Glickman Schlesinger’s Airstream Design Hacks

Inspect Wisely

“Don’t worry about the state of the interior, rather worry about the state of the systems.”

Hire An Expert

“We highly advise a collaboration between a RV designer and a non-RV designer. RV requirements are highly-specialized knowledge.” 

Plan It Out

“Don’t be pushed into doing things the only way the RV builder knows how to do. Spend time planning everything to avoid change orders.”

Don’t Take It Too Seriously

“Have fun with it.”

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